Table of Contents <ul><li>Introduction </li></ul><ul><li>What is a JAD? </li></ul><ul><li>The Five Steps </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Step 1: Planning Ahead Step 2: Assembling the Right Team Step 3: Ensuring Everyone is Committed Step 4: Staying on Course Step 5: Following Through </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Advantages of Joint Application Development </li></ul>
Introduction Imagine working on a systems development project that spans several departments within a large corporation. Then imagine having to go to each department head to gather requirements for the project. Finally, imagine having to schedule all these meetings and follow-up sessions. This whole process can become quite laborious and time-consuming, not to mention challenging. This method of acquiring requirements poses another problem : What would happen if the different department heads gave you contradictory or opposing viewpoints in addition to differing expressed needs? How would you resolve inconsistencies and disagreements?
What is a JAD? Joint Application Design (JAD) is a managed process used in information technology projects to gather requirements in a more efficient, cohesive manner. JAD sessions use team involvement in a highly structured group setting to gain a firm understanding of the client’s view of the business, its problems, opportunities, and requirements, with the aim of jointly developing a solution for these needs.
A JAD consists of a series of workshops where a team of key players (from the business side and the information technology side) meet to discuss and resolve the business’ real needs and then develop solutions to meet these needs. Each JAD session has well-defined objectives, detailed agenda and guidelines, visual aids, and a final document containing all the decisions made by the group. [i ] An agenda provides the structure; a facilitator directs the process; visual aids clarify concepts being discussed; and the group dynamics, with constant feedback, stimulates creativity. [ii ] [i] Yatco, Mei C., “Joint Application Design/Development”, http:// www.umsl.edu/~sauter/analysis/JAD.html . Accessed May 28, 2007. [ii] Creative Data Inc. “Development Methodology – Joint Application Development (JAD)” http:// www.credata.com/research/jad.html . Accessed May 28, 2007.
Step 1: Planning Ahead <ul><li>Planning begins long before the JAD sessions start. The IT team, represented by the project leader, meets with the executive sponsor (from the business side) to establish: </li></ul><ul><li>Management’s support for the project </li></ul><ul><li>The need for improved processes or the new system </li></ul><ul><li>Clear, understandable, measurable, and attainable goals </li></ul><ul><li>The scope and limitations of the project </li></ul><ul><li>The expected milestones, deliverables, and timelines </li></ul>Planning continues during the course of the actual JAD sessions. Prior to each meeting, an agenda should be developed, agreed upon, and distributed to the participants. Minutes or proceedings from previous sessions should also be distributed to participants for review.
Step 2: Assembling the Right Team It is vitally important develop a list of team members and clearly define their roles and responsibilities so they will know what to expect and what is expected of them. The following is a list of typical JAD team member roles. Executive Sponsor The executive sponsor is a high-ranking person in the business organization who establishes the project vision and scope, provides project resources, and selects business team members who have the proper understanding of and commitment to the project. He or she must be designated at the beginning of the project and has the ultimate decision-making authority for the project. The executive sponsor also provides credibility to the project in the customer’s eyes. Except for the initial meeting, the executive sponsor usually does not attend the JAD sessions.
Facilitator/Session Leader The facilitator serves as a guide, directing the flow of the discussions, eliciting participation from team members, mediating and resolving conflicts, and maintaining the focus of the sessions. The excellent communication skills and experience of the facilitator heavily influence the success of the JAD sessions; however, he or she does not contribute his or her opinions to the JAD sessions.
User/Participants There are basically two types of users: Strategic users These users, usually in supervisory or management positions, understand the business policies, directions, patterns, relationships, and “big picture” needs. They may not necessarily be involved in day-to-day operations. Real end users These users are the people who will ultimately use the new system in their day-to-day work. The combined expertise of both types of users provides valuable insight for the development of the new system. User-participants are generally selected by the executive sponsor.
IT Representatives A cross-section of the information technology team (business analysts, programmers, database administrators, etc.) are typically present at the sessions to learn about the business, offer advice, ensure that the clients will be able to understand technological constraints and capabilities, and help develop a solution.
Scribe The scribe’s main function is to record and publish the proceedings in a timely manner. Similar to the facilitator, the scribe does not contribute to the JAD session, but may ask to review or clarify points of the various discussions.
Step 3: Ensuring Everyone is Committed to the Project JAD sessions typically start off with a kick-off meeting at which the executive sponsor is present. At the kick-off meeting, the executive sponsor expresses confidence in the IT team and the project and reiterates to the users the importance of their roles, active contributions, and sustained commitment to the project. Each team member must understand what he or she is expected to do and must be ready to commit to attending and actively participating in all of the required JAD sessions.
Step 4: Staying on Course JAD sessions typically start off with a kick-off meeting at which the executive sponsor is present. At the kick-off meeting, the executive sponsor expresses confidence in the IT team and the project and reiterates to the users the importance of their roles, active contributions, and sustained commitment to the project. Each team member must understand what he or she is expected to do and must be ready to commit to attending and actively participating in all of the required JAD sessions.
Step 5: Following Through At the conclusion of the JAD sessions, the IT team will produce the design document within the timeframe agreed upon during the planning stage. The team will present the solution to the executive sponsor and may demonstrate a prototype. It is also during this stage that the team obtains the executive sponsor’s approval to proceed. However, the process does not end with the executive sponsor’s approval. The entire project team should gather together to evaluate the JAD process.
In a paper presented at the University of Missouri – St. Louis for an Information Systems Analysis class, Dave Rottmann concluded “ The first goal of the Finalization component is to obtain closure on the deliverables by reaching a team consensus that all necessary elements have been incorporated to fit the project's scope. “The second goal is to produce a high-quality presentation that includes a prototype demonstration (if appropriate). The third goal is to prepare a document that includes all of the deliverables that will be referenced in the future development effort.” [i ] [i] Rottmann, op. cit..
Advantages of Joint Application Development Imagine working on a systems development project that spans several departments within a large corporation. Now, this time, imagine you used JAD sessions as a requirements gathering tool. JAD sessions offer several distinct advantages over traditional requirements gathering methods. Since they involve active customer participation, JAD sessions foster a sense of ownership and responsibility among the users. Clients are more likely to make the solution work because they have invested so much of themselves in the project.
Advantages of Joint Application Development A better understanding and definition of the project requirements helps reduce system development time and system costs. Clear understanding of the project goals and cooperation among team members also helps to reduce “scope creep” and improve communication and partnerships between team members, regardless of whether they are from the business or IT side. Moreover, the participation of both business and IT teams helps to reduce missed issues and improve the quality of the final solution.
About the Author Liz Lavaveshkul has had over 20 successful years in the Information Technology industry, specializing in business systems analysis. Her IT career began when she was one of six candidates selected over a field of hundreds of applicants for an intensive Systems Analysis training program at a Fortune 500 company. She has built a solid reputation for providing exemplary requirements documentation. Aside from business systems analysis, Liz also has expertise in project management and technical writing. She has been the lead analyst in various projects and has managed business analysts and technical writers. She has a Master’s degree, with a major in communication. Liz is uniquely qualified to implement the principles outlined in this Special Report